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To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wed 9th July 2014 - IW Donkey Sanctuary, Wroxall.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars (on ragwort!)

A Male Banded Demoiselle

Can it only be back in May that we were last at the Donkey Sanctuary? This return trip was to "clear-up" any of the Himalayan Balsam that we missed last time and then to expanded the search area further to the south. The areas we had attacked before were reasonably clear which shows testament to the hard work that the group has put in to trying to remove this unwelcome visitor to our shores. The new area  to the south had many clumps of our favourite pesky plant so we were soon deep into the nettles and undergrowth trying to eradicate it. By this time of the year the plants are often well above head height and can be spotted easily by the pink flowers and bright red stem. With the surrounding nettles having grown to a similar height, it can be "interesting" trying to make your way along the banks of the stream!
Yesterday's thundery showers had given way to a cloudy, windy day but that didn't discourage a good turnout for what may well be the last PPP session of the year. Once the plant has flowered, pulling it may disturb the seeds which would only help spread them even further.

Carrie's Nature Natter.

July is the month to watch for birds nesting on sea cliffs, dragonflies and butterflies, bats on the wing, heathland reptiles, and swifts, swallows and house martins chasing insects.

Our woodlands are fairly quiet now, as the main bird breeding time is drawing to a close, and our first summer migrant to leave is the cuckoo, with the adults leaving in July, followed by this year’s hatchlings a little later.  It is amazing to think that they travel all the way to Africa all by themselves.  Among the calls and songs you may hear are the cooing of collared doves and wood pigeons, while the melodious sounds of song thrushes, blackbirds and blackcaps are easier to hear now that many of our other birds have fallen silent.  In the countryside you may find flocks of goldfinches, known as ‘charms,’ while they twitter loudly to each other often singing from open perches high up in the trees or from the top of thistle stems.  With the advent of swarms of summer insects house martins and swallows are joined by house sparrows and starlings in pursuit of aerial prey, spinning and twisting in the air catching flies and daddy longlegs.

Arable field edges support the beautiful red poppy blooms and other annuals such as pineapple weed, white campion, scentless mayweed and barren brome. Many plants some think of as weeds are dependent on this habitat, and are among our rarest flowers.  Corncockle and corn marigolds for example have all but disappeared from the countryside.

Along river banks the creamy white meadowsweet flowers are rich with their heady summer scent, and are joined with many other waterside species such as yellow flag iris, figwort, hemp-agrimony, reedmace and the tall spiky purple loosestrife and hoary willow herb.  Young water birds such as coots, moorhens and mallards may still be seen with their parents, either feeding themselves or still occasionally begging for food.

Insects such as marbled whites, chalkhill and common blue butterflies are in flight, while the stunning broad-bodied chaser dragonflies are easily seen as they squabble with competitors over a patch of pond, river or wet ditch, and damselflies are common where there is any standing water.

A Closing Thought....

Now we have some 10 years of running GG here on the Island, it might be time for us to expand the concept into new areas. Whilst working along the banks of the stream this week, it was suggested that we might liken it to visiting a Gym / Spa. The gym part is well documented but the spa aspect might include.....

Skin conditioning and tightening (being stung by nettles)
Skin exfoliation (having chunks of it being torn off by brambles)
Cold water plunge (slipped into the stream and got a boot full)
Mud pack (climbing back out of the stream)
Tanning booth (working out in the sun for hours)

Now, what would you pay for all that in a beauty parlour...??????

Photographs this week were courtesy of Sue and the Nature Natter was from Carrie - many thanks to you both.

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